Second baseman Jose Jimenez batted 3-for-5 and knocked in three RBI as the Pasadena City College baseball team stayed perfect in 2017 with a 7-4 victory over Mt. San Jacinto on Tuesday. The game was played at Brookside Park's Jackie Robinson Memorial Field.
The Lancers are off to a 3-0 start, the same as they did last season. You have to go back to the 1965 PCC team for the last time the program began a year at 4-0. That squad started the season with a 10-game winning streak.
PCC led 2-1, but Mt. San Jacinto (0-2) came up with three runs in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. The Lancers whittled the advantage with a run in the fifth and then scored two in the sixth to move back ahead at 5-4. In that frame, Pasadena hitters used patience in recording four walks and Alex Briggs was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jimenez roped a 2-out, 2-RBI double to left center for insurance offense.
While Lancers starter Race Gardner had an up-and-down collegiate debut (4.1 innings, 3 hits, 4 earned runs), PCC's bullpen shut things down. Nick Esparza (1-0) hurled 3.2 innings of 3-hit shutout ball for the mound win with five Ks, and Jesse Hanckel struck out three batters (and gave up one walk) in the ninth for the save. In all, the three pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts against Eagles batters.
Designated hitter Anthony Fickewirth batted 3-for-3 on line drive singles, had one walk, and scored twice. Leftfielder Tanner Whitlock was busy moving Fickewirth around the bases as he set down three sacrifice bunts and was charged with a fielder's choice on another bunt.
In the top of the eighth, PCC's defense and Esparza's pitching helped the team get out of a jam. With runners on first and second and no outs, first baseman Jeremy Conant fielded an intended sacrifice bunt and then fired a perfect throw to third to get the lead runner for a fielder's choice. With two outs and runners now at second and third, a pitch got away from catcher Jessie Garcia but the freshman alertly raced to the ball 10 feet behind him and fired a throw to Esparza covering home to tag out Marina Rojas. That maintained the team's slim 5-4 lead.
"That was a tough ball game and we had to make a lot of plays to earn the win," said PCC head coach Pat McGee said. "We keep talking about defense and pitching, and those were keys for us. Esparza and Hanckel did their jobs. Jimenez delivered some big at bats."
On Friday, Feb. 4, PCC travels to play Los Angeles Valley College in a 2 p.m. first pitch.